Arsenic Trioxide in Acute Promyelocytic Leukemia: Results of Initial US Pilot and Multicenter Trials

OncologyONCOLOGY Vol 13 No 3
Volume 13
Issue 3

We and others have recently confirmed that arsenic trioxide (As2O3) induces a complete remission (CR) in a high proportion of patients

We and others have recently confirmed that arsenic trioxide (As2O3) induces a complete remission (CR) in a high proportion of patients with acute promyelocytic leukemia (APL). In an initial pilot study, 12 heavily pretreated patients were treated with As2O3 at doses ranging from 0.06 to 0.2 mg/kg/d until leukemic cells were eliminated from the marrow. Patients who achieved a CR were eligible to receive up to five additional courses of therapy, with each course given for a cumulative total of 25 days at a daily dose of 0.15 mg/kg/d every 3-6 weeks.

Marrow leukemic cells were eliminated in 11 of 12 patients after a median treatment duration of 33 days (range, 12-39 days). The median cumulative dose was 360 mg (range, 160 to 515 mg). One patient sustained an intracranial hemorrhage on day 1 and died on day 5.

Complete remission by all criteria was attained at a median time of 47 days (range, 24-83 days). Of 11 patients tested, 8 converted reverse transcriptase–polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) assays for PML/retinoic acid receptor-alpha (RAR-a) to negative at or before the end of the second course, while 3 patients who remained positive relapsed early and rapidly developed arsenic resistance. The median duration of CR is 5+ months (range, 1-9+ months).

Adverse effects were relatively mild, and included skin rash, lightheadedness during the infusion, fatigue, mild hyperglycemia, musculoskeletal pain, and electrocardiographic changes (particularly QT prolongation). Six patients developed leukocytosis (³ 20,000/mm³); however, no additional cytotoxic drugs were administered, and leukocytosis resolved in all cases. Two patients developed symptoms identical to the “retinoic acid (RA) syndrome” and were treated presumptively with steroids. Three patients completed induction solely as outpatients; however, five of the remaining eight patients were admitted to an intensive-care unit for leukemia-related complications.

We subsequently initiated a confirmatory multicenter study in patients with relapsed or refractory APL using the same treatment schedules at a fixed daily dose of 0.15 mg/kg/d. To date, 28 patients have been enrolled in the multicenter study. A total of 15 patients are evaluable for response, with 12 patients (80%) achieving a CR, 1 early death, and 2 failures. Thirteen other patients are pending evaluation.

The adverse experience has been similar to the effects noted in the pilot study. One patient has developed acute renal failure, although the relationship to As2O3 is unclear.

CONCLUSION: These studies confirm the striking efficacy of As2O3 in patients with relapsed/refractory APL and suggest that this agent may warrant investigation in newly diagnosed patients.

Click here for Dr. Bruce Cheson’s commentary on this abstract.

Articles in this issue

WHO Declares Lymphatic Mapping to Be the Standard of Care for Melanoma
Rituximab: Phase II Retreatment Study in Patients With Low-Grade or Follicular Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma
Response Criteria for NHL: Importance of “Normal” Lymph Node Size and Correlations With Response
Chemotherapy Plus Radiation Improves Survival in Patients With Cervical Cancer
A Randomized Trial of Fludarabine, Mitoxantrone (FM) Versus Doxorubicin, Cyclophosphamide, Vindesine, Prednisone (CHEP) as First Line Treatment in Patients With Advanced Low-Grade Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma: A Multicenter Study by GOELAMS Group
Navelbine Increased Elderly Lung Cancer Patients’ Survival
Fludarabine Versus Conventional CVP Chemotherapy in Newly C Diagnosed Patients With Stages III and IV Low-Grade Malignant Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma: Preliminary Results From a Prospective, Randomized Phase III Clinical Trial in 381 Patients
Multicenter, Phase III Study of Iodine-131 Tositumomab (Anti-B1 Antibody) for Chemotherapy-Refractory Low-Grade or Transformed Low-Grade Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma
T-Cell–Depleted Allogeneic Bone Marrow Transplant From HLA-Matched Sibling Donors for Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma
Consensus Statement on Prevention and Early Diagnosis of Lung Cancer
In Vivo Purging and Adjuvant Immunotherapy With Rituximab During PBSC Transplant For NHL
Fludarabine and Cyclophosphamide: A Highly Active and Well-Tolerated Regimen for Patients With Previously Untreated Indolent Lymphomas
Campath-1H Monoclonal Antibody in Therapy for Advanced Low-Grade Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphomas: A Phase II Study
AIDS Drugs Effective Against Most Common HIV Strain
Rituximab Therapy in Previously Treated Waldenström’s Macroglobulinemia: Preliminary Evidence of Activity
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